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8 Lessons 30 Somethings Wish They Could Tell Their 25 Year-Old Selves

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8 Lessons 30 Somethings Wish They Could Tell Their 25 Year-Old Selves

Turning 25 is an often forgot about milestone that truly marks our entrance into adulthood. While it is true that the only things we can do at 25 is lower our car insurance rates, or purchase life insurance before the cost goes up, it also marks a time in life when we start on the path toward figuring out who we are. When we enter our 30s there are several pieces of advice we wish we could give to our 25 year old selves during that important year.

1. DO allow your passion to define you instead of job titles and descriptions

Passion is an intense emotion that we experience when we feel incredibly enthusiastic about something that we deeply care about. Our passions are supposed to be the creative and driving forces behind our actions. Ideally, the work we do for a living should nicely align with what we are passionate about. However, there are times when our passions are diminished by job titles that determine the value we bring to the world. We become defined as assistants, directors, service representatives, or managers and not as creators, learners, healers, artists, poets, inventors, scholars, activists, or thinkers. Therefore, someone in their thirties wishes he could tell his 25 year old self to be your passion and not your job.

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2. DON’T let fear prevent you from asking for what you want

Fear is a powerful emotion that can prevent us from having the lives that we dream of when we become too afraid to ask for what we want. This fear arises when we feel we run the risk of being told no, or having to sacrifice something in return for what we ask for. Then it feels more safe to not pursue what we want, rather than have our dreams be blown up by rejection or tainted by concessions. Yet, many people in their thirties lament all of things they could have had if they’d only asked for it when they were 25 – an increase of pay or change of job title, a relationship with someone they’d loved but never pursued, support for an innovative business venture, etc.

3. DO judge success by how you feel, and not by what you have

When we become adults, we begin to strive for those things that indicate we’ve reached a level of success and maturity within our lives – the nice car, comfortable home, fancy clothes, and a high paying job. Every day we are inundated with messages from television, print ads, music, family and friends that tell us what it means to be successful, and over time we may stop listening to the internal messages that help us define success for ourselves. Then a day may come when we look at all of the things we have accumulated while simultaneously asking ourselves “Who am I and what do I want?” Many 30 somethings wish they could tell their 25 year old selves to take time to listen to those internal messages that will help them to answer those questions.

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4. DON’T speak about your gifts, talents, and interests in the past tense

We each have unique talents, gifts and interests. Yet, as we get older many of the things that we love to do or study fall to the wayside as we become bogged down by everyday living and responsibilities. When others ask us about our interests, creative ventures, or hobbies we may shrug and say, “Well I used to enjoy writing but can’t find the time to do it as much as I used to,” or “I used to love to travel, but haven’t done it in years.” Yet, our 25 year old selves should know that when we allow our gifts, talents and interest to become parts of our past, we miss out on those aspects of ourselves that make us unique.

5. DO appreciate the love that comes in unexpected ways

To love and be loved can be a transformative experience because it adds a special and intangible value to our lives. As cliché as it sounds, love can turn bad days into bearable ones, convert tears to smiles, and give purpose to the aimless. Often, we hope to find love through our relationships with a significant other, hoping that he or she will complete a part of our lives that feels empty. However, as we search for that forever love with that special someone, we may overlook the other types of love that have the power to transform us and our lives. Unconditional love can be found through the sincerity of long time soul friendships, or by developing extremely close and loving bonds with family members. It can be found in community, whether it is spiritual, neighborhood-based, artistic, or activist.

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6. DON’T allow the opinions of others to cloud your decision making

We’ve all experienced being incredibly excited about a new idea, venture, or decision to then have someone we love relentlessly pellet us with doubting questions. In those moments, it feels like the wind was knocked out of our sails and the air let out of our balloons. One instant we are so invested in our visions, and then someone shares their opinion about our choices and we question ourselves, or don’t follow through on a plan. However, although our loved ones think they know what’s best for us, if we always let their opinions change our minds we could be missing out on those special moments in life. Our 25 year old versions would want to know that it is important to hold on to the dreams that excite us and put the wind in our sails.

7. DO recognize when it’s time to discard old baggage and expired relationships

There’s a well known adage that says, “people come into our lives for a reason, season, or lifetime.” However, can we tell the difference between those relationships that are to last for a season those that are for a lifetime? Many of us hold on to friendships and intimate, familial, and work-based relationships that suited well us in the past, yet presently stall our personal and professional growth. Some of our relationships can begin to feel one-sided, where we give much and receive very little in return. Other times our relationships begin to feel like a contest where our loved-ones put us down, do not express happiness about our achievements, or find fault with our decisions. Many 30 somethings want to tell their 25 year old selves to let go of expired relationships to focus on more significant relationships and endeavors.

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8. DON’T judge your mistakes, but find the lesson in them

One man’s mistake is another man’s lesson, and when we learn from our mistakes we give ourselves permission to recognize our own humanity. As we get older, we have to make more and more decisions in our lives as we take on more responsibilities. Therefore, mistakes are to be expected because we cannot foresee the outcome of every choice we make. Yet, when we make mistakes we often berate ourselves what we did wrong rather than asking what we could do differently in the future to prevent a similar outcome.

Featured photo credit: Mateusz Stachowski via freeimages.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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